Dueling Consultants

Gibson: As companies cut consulting budgets, Meta readies for an ad campaign aimed at Gartner.

Its war. No, not that one. Last week, Meta Group declared war on Gartner. Apparently, Stamford, Conn., is not big enough for the two of them. Meta is set to launch a major marketing campaign targeting the titan among consulting companies and its neighbor, Gartner. Although the ad reads "Meta vs. Mega" and doesnt mention Gartner by name, later ads will, Im told.

Why? Times are tough, and businesses are cutting back on the number of consultants whose opinions they think they need. If the definition of a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you what the time is, getting a second opinion may be a luxury. If you are going with only one market research company, which will it be? Metas push is to get you to vote Gartner off the island.

Since there is only one reality to study, the real challenge for a market research company is to package its research differently. Last week, IDC, the most venerable, if not the largest or fanciest, research company, offered its take on the future at its Directions conference in Boston. The basic directions are similar to those propounded by Gartner, Meta and Forrester: Data center consolidation is the first step to the utility computing of tomorrow. Virtualizaton of computing and storage resources is the second step to utility nirvana, which can be alternately expressed as grid or fabric computing.

Because large amounts of XML and middleware will be required to tie applications to this vast data center resource, vendors that offer integration services will have a huge advantage over those that offer point products. While the data center is becoming a cloud, mobile Internet clients will proliferate to the point where they outnumber stationary clients in three years. The downturn is ending and giving way to targeted IT investment for strategic advantage. Thats what most research companies are saying these days—package it as you will.

Do you lean on the market researchers or are you "going lean" on them? Let me know at stan_gibson@ziffdavis.com.

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